Update on Liability for Park Law Enforcement Officers and Supervisors


  • Dan S. Murrell
  • William O. Dwyer
  • Cam Towers Jones


Law enforcement, liability, lawsuit, civil rights, litigation, 42 USC 1983, parks and recreation, park ranger, police, good-faith immunity, and color of law.


As park systems expand their law enforcement role in an attempt to manage their rapidly growing volume of visitors, administrators will face the ever-increasing probability of litigation over alleged violations of civil rights by law enforcement and other park personnel. The trend in the federal courts over the last two decades has been to erode some of the traditional protections from liability that people in public office previously enjoyed. Managers and supervisors of park law enforcement operations must become aware of these changes an:d provide for ways to reduce the liability risks faced by their officers, themselves, and their agencies. This paper reviews the major trends in civil liability of law enforcement officers accused of violating civil rights as they pertain to a specific federal statute allowing such lawsuits. It then offers some suggestions for positive steps toward reducing the risk of such liability.





Regular Papers